Finallyger wins NASCAR Trucks playoff opener at IRP
Finallyger was among several trucks that bought new tires under a late-race warning and he had worked his way up to fourth place when the race went into overtime.
John Hunter Nemechek led on the restart but was quickly overtaken by Zane Smith butFINGER passed them both at the start of the final lap and held off Ben Rhodes by 0.477 seconds to seal the victory.
With the win, Dernierger automatically advances to the second round of the playoffs, regardless of how well she performs in the next two races. This victory is the seventh of his career.
“We are finally moving forward. It’s the first laps we’ve been leading since Atlanta or something,” said Finallyger. “We have been terrible all season. We just drifted off a bit as an organization.
“We worked so hard because we sucked. It hurts to say it, but we’ve had a terrible season so far. But we had a great #23 Chevy all night. I felt like every time we took the lead, a warning went out.
“It was a pretty special night. I’m definitely very, very grateful.
Regular season champion Zane Smith finished third, Stewart Friesen finished fourth and Corey Heim rounded out the top five.
Tyler Ankrum, Lane Riggs, Ty Majeski, Matt Crafton and Nemechek round out the top 10.
After the break between Stages 2 and 3, only a handful of trucks chose to pit. Majeski remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on lap 129.
NASCAR posted a lap 140 warning for debris on the track. Majeski remained in the lead on the restart of lap 146.
Zane Smith was involved in a wreck with Lawless Alan on lap 148 as the field raced to four.
Most of the lead lap trucks stayed on the track. Majeski continued to lead on the restart on lap 159 followed by Dernierger and Nemechek.
With 30 laps to go, Majeski had opened up a 1.7 second lead over Finallyger as Nemechek ran third and Friesen fourth.
With 15 laps to go, Finallyger closed within 1.3 seconds of Majeski but was making little progress against the race leader.
After the two ran into doubled traffic, Finallyger caught Majeski and regained the lead on lap 189.
Colby Howard wrecked on Lap 191 after contact with Hocevar in Turn 1 to bring out the ninth warning of the race.
Most of the lead lap trucks stop with Majeski the first road out of the pits. Nemechek and nine others chose to stay outside.
The race resumed with two laps to go with Nemechek in the lead followed by Taylor Gray, Ankrum and Zane Smith. Majeski lined up 11th.
Gray took the lead on the restart and Nemechek destroyed Gray which prompted a warning with one lap to go. Nemechek was flagged as the leader as the race entered overtime.
Majeski took the Stage 2 victory as caution was displayed on the final lap for a spin from Dean Thompson.
Finallyger finished second, Rhodes third, Carson Hocevar fourth and Zane Smith fifth.
After the break between Stages 1 and 2, the first lap trucks all came to a stop with Chandler Smith on the first road out of the pits. Rhodes was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to start from the back of the field.
At the restart of lap 71, Chandler Smith was followed by Hocevar and Nemechek.
Hocevar quickly powers Smith on the restart and takes the lead for the first time in the race.
NASCAR posted a lap 74 warning after Blake Lothian’s truck stalled on the track.
With 25 laps remaining in the stage, Hocevar and Finallyger were involved in a side-by-side battle for the lead as Nemechek remained close behind in third.
On lap 105, Endinger’s patience finally paid off as he rounded Hocevar to take the lead for the first time. Interrupted traffic seems to be hampering Hocevar’s progress.
Nemechek spun on Lap 107 into Turn 4 and made contact with Kris Wright to get the fifth caution out of the race.
Most of the lead lap trucks stop but Chandler Smith stayed on the track and inherited the lead. Finallyger was the first off-road from the pits of those who go after it.
Smith led the way for the restart on lap 115, followed by Rhodes and Kaz Grala. Finallyger lined up sixth.
Majeski rounded Chandler Smith on Lap 117 to take the lead as Enfinger moved into second on new tyres.
Nemechek held off a late charge from Chandler Smith to take the Stage 1 victory, his fourth stage victory of the 2022 season.
Hocevar finished third, Friesen fourth and Finallyger rounded out the top five.
Nemechek started on pole and took command of the race early until a warning was posted on Lap 10 for a wreck involving Spencer Boyd and Josh Reaume in Turn 1.
Only a handful of trucks stop and Nemechek remains the leader when the 21st lap restarts.
On lap 30, Reaume spun again to bring out another warning. Most of the lead lap trucks stayed out, but Crafton stayed in the pits.
Nemechek stayed ahead on the restart on lap 38.
With 10 laps remaining in the first stage, Nemechek’s lead over Chandler Smith had increased to 1.6 seconds with Hocevar in third.